Focus on budget at Capitol

Roundhouse - by Dan Lorimier

By Dan Lorimier, Rio Grande Chapter Lobbyist

Our Legislature meets again on Jan. 21 for a “short” 30-day session. Proposed legislation must either have a direct impact on the state budget or on a short list of issues described by the governor. This session, the governor’s “call list” includes water issues facing New Mexico.

Every legislative session offers bills and memorials that offer the Rio Grande Chapter opportunities to improve or protect our land, air and water as well as legislation that proposes to sell off and threaten our priceless natural heritage.

With New Mexico’s fractionalized Legislature along with our governor’s persistent vision favoring corporate profits at all costs via dashing environmental safeguards, we can expect many more threats than opportunities in this Session.

Watch out for bills that propose New Mexico grabbing almost all of the federally (think American people) owned land here to exploit for profit. Other bills will likely support the diversion alternatives for the Gila River under the Arizona Water Settlement Act.

Also, expect attacks on our Clean Water Act asking for changing the “no pollution allowed” mandate into a “point of compliance” rule where pollution is OK as long as it, theoretically, stays inside the project property line.

The Rio Grande Chapter along with our environmental allies will forward some proactive legislative pieces. Among these bills is one we have worked on with Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) in previous sessions and are again in 2014 to offer tax rebates to purchasers of electric vehicles and to purchasers of commercial charging units that support EV technology. We will also support legislation to convert fire stations to solar power so they can invest the significant energy cost savings into safety equipment.

Apart from all the interim and pre-session work we have accomplished, the upcoming short legislative session represents 30 days and nights of intense lobbying activity for the Rio Grande Chapter.

We will be asking for your support and involvement with regular alerts during the Session and are actively seeking members interested in helping our lobbying team st the Roundhouse.

If you like making a difference in what our imperfect legislative system produces in 2014, please contact me at 575-740-2927, daniel.lorimier@sierraclub.org.